Prime minister intervenes to stop potential FGM deportation

Prime minister Theresa May has prevented the deportation of a woman, after she claimed her daughter would face female genital mutilation (FGM) if they returned to Nigeria.

Ms May intervened after the woman's local MP, Hannah Bardell of the Scottish National Party, highlighted the case in the House of Commons.

The decision to refuse 29-year-old Lola Ilesanmi’s application to stay in the UK was withdrawn after details of her case came to light.

She alleges that her estranged husband beat her and forced her to have an abortion because she refused to allow her three-year-old daughter to undergo FGM. He has denied these allegations.

Ms Ilesanmi had a joint visa with her husband and worked as a business analyst with RBS in Scotland. However, it is believed that her estranged partner told the Home Office of the relationship breakdown and that she and her daughter had left the marital home.

This led to her application to remain in the UK being refused. The prime minister has now ordered Brandon Lewis, immigration minister, to personally look at the case.

In a letter to Ms Bardell, May said the government will not tolerate FGM, which can cause "extreme and lifelong physical and psychological suffering to women and girls".

She called the practice "abhorrent" and said home secretary Amber Rudd was now aware of the situation.

"This government takes the issue of FGM very seriously and remains committed to ending FGM within a generation,” the prime minister wrote.

Responding to Ms May's decision, Ms Bardell said: "Lola needs leave to remain to restart her life in Livingston... Leave to remain is not yet guaranteed and is vital for the safety of Lola and her young family."

It is thought that thousands of women and girls are at risk of FGM each year. Although the barbaric practice has been outlawed in the UK since the 1980s, many females are either taken to other countries to have it done, or have healthcare professionals carry it out illegally here.

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